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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Lunardi, Vincenzo (1759 — 1806)

Said to have been born at Lucca, Italy, Lunardi prided himself on being 'the first aerial traveller in the English atmosphere', and in 1784 made balloon ascents from sites in and near London. He made ascents from Edinburgh and Glasgow the following year.

A Shetland minister, the Rev John Mill, either saw, or read about, one of Lunardi's Scottish Ascents and recorded in his Diary:

'A French man [sic] called Lunardi fled over the Firth of Forth in a Balloon, and lighted in Ceres parish, not far from Cupar, in Fife; and O! how much are the thoughtless multitude set on these and like foolish vanities to the neglect of the one thing needful. Afterwards, 'tis said, when soaring upwards in the foresaid machine, he was driven by the wind down the Firth of Forth, and tumbled down into the sea near the little Isle of May, where he had perished had not a boat been near who saved him and his machine.'

On the occasion of his first Edinburgh ascent, in October 1785, all business was suspended, and he got a tremendous send off. The Scots Magazine reported: 'The beauty and grandeur of the spectacle could only be exceeded by the cool, intrepid manner in which the adventurer conducted himself; and indeed he seemed infinitely more at ease than the greater part of his spectators.'

Lunardi was secretary to the Neapolitan Ambassador in London, Prince Carmanico.

He published in 1786, An Account of five Aerial Voyages in Scotland, in a Series of Letters to his Guardian, Gherardo Campagni.

A bonnet, balloon-shaped was named after him. Burns mentioned the bonnet in 'To a Louse': "But Miss's fine Lunardi, fye".

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Robert Burns Store

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

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